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xStream Engineering

Innovative tools for digital marshalling and late binding

ABB Ability™ System 800xA engineering tools remove dependencies and enable multiple workstreams. Tasks can now be done in parallel instead of the traditional way of doing projects.

xStream Engineering addresses the need to reduce project time by “de-coupling” automation tasks from each other (i.e. separating the field installation and testing from the application programming).  Application engineering can now be done in parallel with the installation and configuration of the hardware using the newly released “signals” concept.

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Engineering with Signals

“Signals” is a new Control Builder concept that decouples the hardware and the application engineering.  Both the hardware and application engineers refer to the same “signal” names without having to wait for the other. Control Builder visualizes any merging conflicts when the applications meet the hardware configuration so these can easily be resolved.  The “signals” enable digital marshalling where different controllers can connect to and use the same Ethernet FCI.  
Note: traditional “Variable” I/O connections are still available.

Ethernet I/O Wizard

The Ethernet I/O Wizard performs several functions related to engineering Select I/O and S800 on Ethernet.  It is primarily used to:

  • Automatically read the “as built” hardware configuration from the Select I/O Ethernet FCIs in the field.  This includes HART related information such as tag number, manufacturer etc.
  • Configure and functionally check Select I/O in the field prior to (and separate from) the delivery of the application program.
  • Generate the I/O structures needed in Control Builder to describe the hardware.

Digital Marshalling

With xStream Engineering and the Industrial Ethernet I/O Network, all of the 800xA controllers have access to all of the Select I/O and S800 on Ethernet clusters.  Therefore, the I/O can be marshalled digitally, instead of physically, using “signals” to connect the applications in the controllers to the physical I/O in the field.  If a control application is moved from one controller to another, no re-work is required as the I/O connection is automatically maintained without the need for rework or change orders.

Late Changes / late binding

Traditionally, multi-channel I/O modules are ordered just after design freeze so that the assembly process can begin.  However, with Select I/O, the signal types (AI, AO, DI, DO) can be defined much later and assigned simply by installing the appropriate signal conditioning module (SCM).  This reduces the important of “design freeze” and reduces the financial and schedule impact of any late changes to the design (such as signal type or adding a device).

Adding a device late in the project or after startup is also more efficient with Select I/O and the Industrial Ethernet I/O Network.  Simply wire the new device to the closest junction box, assign its signal name and add to the control logic.  The device no longer needs to be placed within a controller centric hierarchy.

Configure, Check, Connect

With the Select I/O and xStream engineering tools, it is now possible to the decouple tasks and allow two independent teams to work in parallel and then bind together with precision and efficiency later. This reduces the impact of changes during the project and potentially greatly reduces the commissioning time.

While the application code is being developed and tested by the application engineers, the field work can be done at any time after the cabinets are delivered to site and installed:

  • Configure:  Select I/O is scanned in the field and configured using data from the I/O list.  A “test” configuration is automatically created for help in doing the functional loop checks.
  • Check:  With the I/O configured, a test configuration can be downloaded to a controller in the field enabling smart and non-smart field equipment to be tested and verified (automatically documenting the results)
  • Connect:  The I/O structure can be imported into Control Builder enabling the signals to be automatically marshalled to the application.  Any conflicts or mismatches can be easily identified and corrected.  The system is now ready for commissioning

With this solution, there are fewer surprises, fewer change orders, earlier commissioning of projects, and happier owner-operators.

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